Hayes was pressurized into making a statement which placed him and Matthews at the scene of the crime. Hayes and Matthews were no where near the scene of the crime when it happened. Hayes had to make a forced statement where he claimed he drove Matthews to the store and only heard gunshots after Matthew entered the store. He did not bother to ask Matthews about the activity inside Hayes was also forced into making a false confession. The prosecutors relied on this false confession and the witnesses' confession to try Matthews.
The prosecutors used witness testimony to convict Matthews. They did not have any forensic or scientific evidence which could link Matthews to the murder. One of the witnesses alleged that he managed to catch a glimpse of Matthews in the rearview mirror at the scene of the crime. The district attorney believed that it was enough evidence to convict Matthews. Matthews's lawyers spent more than $30,000 dollars on DNA tests to prove that Matthews wasn't at the murder scene.
Matthews's lawyers took statements from inmates after finding out that the real killer Rondell Love had bragged to them about the Vanhoose Murder. After some legwork, they discovered that the DNA at the crime scene matched Rondell Love's DNA.
The Crime masked gunman shot Tommy Vanhoose on April 7, 1997to death in his grocery store in bridge city, Louisiana. According to witnesses a masked gunman walked in the store and demanded money at gunpoint. The gunman shot him to death after he refused to hand the cash over. He didn't stop shooting till he ran to his getaway car. While making his escape he discarded his ski mask. One of the witnesses retrieved the mask and handed it over to the police as evidence.
The trial was marred by racial prejudice. The prosecutors were successful in getting a dominantly white jury. There were around 11 white jurors while there was only one African-American. That was very unfair as one third of the county's population consisted of minorities. In that order the jury was not officially representing all the people in the country. There was a lot of hue and cry raised when pressure was applied on the jury to reach a rushed verdict. The trial only lasted three days. The prosecution was allowed to present its evidence on the second day. The defense wanted a move to rest on the third day. However they were denied that chance by the judge who ordered both parties to make their closing statement. The defense made another move to rest again. The judge turned down their request again and asked the jurors to deliberate the decision. The judge ordered the jury to go back after they couldn't make a decision. They made a decision in 40 mins after spending 14 hours straight in the court room. This is when they returned with a guilty verdict.
In this way the trial was unfair as the defense wasn't allowed to make a proper presentation. The jury was forced into making a decision after deliberating over it for a single day.
It was alleged that the suspect left the scene of the crime and jumped through the passenger window of the getaway car. However the passenger window of Matthews's car couldn't be wound down as it had been broken since a very long time. This was one possible reason why Matthews' couldn't be the suspect.
Matthews' IQ was calculated to be 71. That classified him as a borderline retard. You be the judge. The witness's testimony was also not accurate. They claimed that the killer was not that tall. They estimated his height to be around 5-5 or 5-6 and of medium build. However Matthews's height is 6 feet and weighs less than 150 pounds while Rondell love is 5-7.
It is very sad to know that till this day Ryan Matthews hasn't received a formal apology from anyone after being wrongfully accused. The state of Louisiana is run by a conservative administration. This is one reason why colored and poor people don't get any justice there.
Why is Ryan Matthews still in jail?, Alan Maass June 11, 2004